WASHINGTON, D.C. — Defense Secretary James Mattis is expected to recommend to President Donald Trump that he allow transgender soldiers to continue to serve openly in the military, according to sources who spoke with the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity.
Mattis was supposed to send the recommendations to Trump, who has been trying to defend his ban of trans soldiers, which started as a series of tweets in late July of 2017 and has continued with a series of legal challenges. Federal courts have ruled against the ban, and the Trump administration was supposed to hand over information related to its case earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Maryland, to Judge Marvin Garbis.
The administration said it could not do so, as it was planning to unveil and defend a new policy on transgender soldiers. Garbis revealed the administration’s plans in a brief ruling.
Justice Department lawyers said “they will not be defending the policy now at issue but will be defending the policy to be disclosed on February 21, 2018,” a date that has come and gone, without no new policy materializing.
Sources told the Post that the meeting had to be pushed back, but that it would happen soon and that Mattis would contradict Trump’s stated desire to keep transgender people out of the armed forces, painting them as a costly distraction.
While the recommendations from Mattis, who was tasked with studying the issue, will be taken into consideration, the policy decision remains with the White House.
Mattis consulted with a panel of experts, but a Pentagon spokesperson noted that the defense secretary could make any recommendation to the president that he wished.
“This is a complex issue, and the secretary is taking his time to consider the information he has been given,” Dana White, the chief spokesperson for Mattis, told reporters on Thursday. “It was a self-imposed deadline, but I’m confident that the president will give him the time necessary to provide him with a thoughtful recommendation.”
“The panel’s recommendations were just that,” she added. “The secretary considered those recommendations and his own thoughts, and he had his own conversations and now he’s prepared to provide his recommendation that’s been informed by those conversations.”